Graphics Cards Guide

ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB DDR5 (Reference Card) review

ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 - Inching for the Apex

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The MSI Radeon HD 4870 512MB

The MSI Radeon HD 4870 512MB

We got a pair of these Radeon HD 4870 cards in our labs, just perfect for a CrossFireX setup. Results for that and all the rest are in our benchmark section but before that, let's see what the bigger sibling (literally) of the Radeon HD 4800 series bring to the table.

The single slot cooler on the Radeon HD 4850 was good for just one thing: saving you an expansion slot if you're in the CrossFire mood. The 4850 itself was running much warmer than we had expected and though one could always point the finger at the cooler, ATI probably felt that it was worth the trade-off. So how about the dual-slot and beefier cooler on the 4870?

Well, it's slightly better. The fan will spin at 100% like quite a few other high-end graphics cards at boot up but the noise wasn't too bad once you get pass that stage. It's definitely audible and the temperatures too were quite high. It's not as high as the 4850 but it will still scorch your fingers if you touch certain parts. Consisting of two heatpipes with a solid chunk of copper for the base, it's quite a hefty heatsink and hence not exactly a card you can toss around easily.

Clock speeds on the Radeon HD 4870 are naturally higher, with the RV770 core at 750MHz, compared to 625MHz on the Radeon HD 4850. Memory differs the most of course, with the GDDR5 (from Qimonda) on the 4870 giving it an effective 3.6GHz clock speed and with ATI claiming that the new memory format can go up to 5GHz in the near future. Most of the Radeon HD 4870 boards you'll find now are likely to be reference designs and will look similar to the ones we have shown here, though overclocked ones have been announced by BFG and Diamond Multimedia.